Friday, January 13, 2017

Training Principles: Overload

 Are you following the same program in the gym and lifting the same weights that you were last year, or the year before last (or not doing any strength training at all??) and wondering why you don't seem to get any stronger?  Or, have you been running the same pace, the same route and following the same running schedule all year, or for many years and wonder why you aren't getting any faster?  Well, folks, I'm here to give you a friendly reminder that the same old just ain't gonna work;).  Results take focus, effort and overload balanced with optimal recovery (and nutrition) and you need a progressive training plan for that.

If you aren't progressing, you are maintaining or regressing.  It's as simple as that. 

The human body is an amazing machine.  Give it the correct dose of stimulus and recovery and it will adapt indefinitely over time.  Unless you were an Olympic athlete in your early years, your body has the potential to adapt and grow stronger, regardless of your age, by following a training plan that balances the training principles of progressive overload and recovery.  In fact, the latest research indicates that significant declines in physiology as the result of 'age' do not actually occur until the 7th decade and even then they are very gradual. The research shows it is a decline in activity, training and lifestyle that is the true culprit.  If the topic of aging and performance interests you, be sure to dive into master coach Joe Friel's awesome blog series on the Aging Athlete starting here, here and here.

How do we get the results we seek?

The body will only adapt and grow stronger when faced with an unaccustomed stimulus. The stimulus of a training session must be strong enough to upset the present balance of the body's systems (cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, etc) but not so great that it creates injury or over training.  In response to such a stimulus, during the rest/recovery period,  the body reorganizes and rebuilds to reach a new balanced state so that it may handle the previous load/stimulus. The body therefor becomes stronger and more resilient to further stress. Over time the amount of training stimulus must increase in order to challenge the body enough for this adaptation to occur. Overload Stimulus + Recovery = Adaptation.  Many phenomenal changes occur in the body as a result of progressive overload training (it’s pretty amazing stuff for exercise physiology geeks!!):
Energy Production System
  • Greater utilization of fat and sparing of glycogen
  • Improved conversion of lactate to ATP (fuel)
  • Increase glycogen and creatine phosphate stores
  • Improved oxygen extraction from blood
Muscular System
  • Increased force production in muscle
  • Improved muscle fibre recruitment and synchronicity
  • Improved efficiency of movement through neuromuscular co-ordination
  • Improved endurance /fatigue resistance
Cardiovascular System
  • Increased stroke volume (amount of blood pumped per heart beat)
  • Improved capillarization of muscle fibres
  • Increased blood volume
  • Improved oxygen transport to the working muscles.
WOW!  What an amazing machine!

Would you like to follow a progressive Training Plan that will take the guess work out of your training and give you the confidence that you are on the right track to reach your goals? Download one of my tried and true Training Plans so that you can relax and focus on your workouts!  Get started on your performance goals today!  

Have fun, work hard, get strong!

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